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A Christian's anguish: Why remind us of our minority status?

January 15, 2015 14:40 IST
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While churches burn in the capital and lawmakers spew rubbish, Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not think it important to utter a word against these atrocities.

It happened more than 20 years ago. I was barely nine or 10 when the 1992-1993 Bombay riots took place. The news of the killings of minorities in the neighbourhood spread like wildfire. Images of the curfews still paint a vivid picture in my mind.

Coming from, and living around, the Christian community meant we had to go on the defensive. Neighbours were asked to put holy pictures on the front door to indicate that we are the 'other' minority, in hope of being spared should the miscreants try any mischief.

The family and the neighbours tried to be calm amid all that tension. Insecurity was at its peak.

As has been documented widely, things changed in Mumbai. People looked at each other with suspicion and apprehension.

Things got better with time, even if it would never be the same.

The fear, the insecurity, of being a Christian minority had been buried somewhere deep down. Until now.

2015, and insecurity has reared its ugly head again.

For the first time in so many years I've been reminded of my minority status.

Having close friends, who are Hindus, Muslims, Parsis and agnostics, I've grown up respecting all faiths. I've never had the need to feel 'Christian,' other than while hosting friends at Christmas dinners and Easter lunches.

But with the communal tide rising to dangerous levels off late and the rhetoric taking a saffron hue, fear has gripped my very core. The tension is so palpable, it is difficult to ignore.

A fortnight ago, when a small fight broke out in central Mumbai, rumours of it being a communal one made the rounds. Curfew was imposed in the vicinity and memories of 1992-1993 came rushing back.

I was very afraid. My neighbours tried to put on a calm demeanour, but their voices and their eyes revealed exactly what I was feeling.

After all, on December 1, the St Sebastian Catholic church was burnt down in Delhi's Tahirpur area.

What was disturbing was that none of the reputed daily newspapers published the news on the front page.

While churches burn in the capital and lawmakers spew rubbish, Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not think it important to utter a word against these atrocities.

On Tuesday, January 13, Delhi witnessed another attack when the Our Lady of Grace Church in Vikaspuri was vandalised -- the act was caught on CCTV camera.

Dominic Emmanuel, editor of the magazine Word Among Catholics, has said, 'Disruption of our prayers and services has become an everyday affair. The silence of the authorities has left the community with a feeling of insecurity.'

In such a scenario, how on earth can one expect the Christian minorities to sit quiet?

With the only weapon in their armoury being education, hard-working, peaceful Christians have taken to social media to vent their anger, fear and frustration.

Last month, after Sushma Swaraj's demand that the Bhagwad Gita be made the national scripture, some members of the community forwarded this Rediff.com poll on social media to get the maximum 'Nos.'

With United States President Barack Obama's visit on Republic Day, a Web site has been set up to appeal to him to talk to Prime Minister Modi about the attacks on Christians.

I don't know who started forwarding these chain messages and petitions and where they originated from, but one thing is certain -- Christians have had enough.

Why remind us of our minority status when we are happy to live as Indians?

Let's get one thing very clear. Only money and business will not make us a superpower. The basis on which this country was formed -- secularism (which is the beauty of our country) that, along with economic development, is what will take this nation forward.

A frustrated Indian who is also a Christian

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